When Curtis Mack graduated from Bethune-Bowman High School in 1997, he went to South Carolina State University to study digital media.
“I had a partial scholarship, and I was drawing and painting and creating a lot of cartoons and stuff,” he said. “I thought that was what I wanted to do with the rest of my life, but it wasn’t. It’s what everybody else wanted me to do. I was good at it, but I didn’t have a passion for it. I really don’t like drawing.”
Curtis took a step back to think about his long-term goals. He enjoyed and was good at working with computers. Knowing he needed a career to support his family, Curtis returned to school and graduated from OCtech’s Information Technology program in 2013.
For nearly six years, he has worked with Orangeburg Consolidated School District Five, now a part of Orangeburg County School District, in the IT department.
“My job is to make sure our information is safe on the network and all of the policies are in place,” the technology security support specialist said.
Curtis attributes much of his success to the confidence instilled in him by his OCtech instructors.
“I learned a lot from them, but not only that, they have become my friends,” he said. “I still have a relationship with them. As a student, when I was afraid of certain aspects of technology, like computer programming, they’d tell me, ‘Hey, you can do this. You’ve just got to focus.’ Those little talks really helped. Now, if there’s something I don’t know, I’m like, ‘Hey, I can do this. It’s only a computer. I’m not going to break it.’”
“Coming from a four-year school to OCtech, I saw the difference in the teaching,” Curtis said. “OCtech was more hands on. I actually got to touch the technology. Those experiences prepared me for questions I had in job interviews, knowing how the technology worked and having actually done it versus just reading about it in a book.”
Curtis said his 10th-grade son has noticed how much OCtech helped his dad succeed.
“He wants to go into technology,” Curtis said. “He wants to go to a technical college so he can get hands-on experience. He has seen firsthand what it did for me. I’m not influencing him one way or the other. He’s making his own decision, and I’m proud of him for that.”
“If you don’t know what your life plans or your passions are, then go to a technical college,” Curtis said. “It’s only two years. If you figure it out, you can finish there or transfer to a four-year college. If you’re going into a technical career, then I believe you shouldn’t even consider going to a university because you get all of the training and experience you need for the job at a technical college.”
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